NEWCASTLE is today celebrating the part the city is playing in helping the UK hit a Europe-leading superfast communications target.
The Government has announced that more than 1m people across the country can now access superfast speeds – with Go Digital Newcastle making a real impact in the North East.
The Government’s £1.7 billion nationwide rollout is on track to extend superfast broadband to 95% of UK homes and businesses by 2017.
The rate at which the fibre technology is being rolled out under the programme is now accelerating, up to 40,000 premises gaining access every week.
Go Digital Newcastle is funded by Government body BDUK and other partners, including BT, and is rolling out superfast broadband in phases across the city.
Residents and businesses in several areas already have access to the service. The first fibre broadband cabinet went live at the beginning of July, and the upgraded service is already available to more than 1800 homes and businesses in Walker, Byker, Cochrane Park, Manor Park, Elswick, South Benwell and Fenham.
Residents and businesses who want to take advantage of the service can choose from a wide range of internet service providers. More than 140 in the UK are currently offering fibre broadband.
Faster broadband will not only improve profits for UK businesses, but will create an additional 56,000 jobs in the UK by 2024.The work involved in the current roll out is expected to provide a £1.5 billion boost to local economies.
Cllr Michael Johnson, Newcastle City Council Deputy Cabinet Member for Skills, Business and Enterprise, said Go Digital Newcastle was providing residents and businesses in the city with a fantastic opportunity.
“Go Digital Newcastle will make our city one of the best-connected in Europe once the project is complete,” he said.
“For both residents and businesses who choose to take up the service, it provides the chance to access outstanding broadband speeds that can give a boost to everyday life and work.
“We expect superfast broadband to make a major contribution to the economy of the city and the region as a whole by helping businesses be more effective and efficient, and bringing effortless internet access to homes.
“We’re delighted to hear that more than a million UK homes and businesses are now benefiting – and we’re delighted that Newcastle is at the forefront of the superfast broadband revolution.”
As part of Go Digital (Newcastle), businesses, charities and social enterprises in Newcastle, North Tyneside and Gateshead can also apply to Go Digital Newcastle for a connection voucher worth up to £3,000 to get connected to the superfast service.
Free business support including expert advice and masterclasses is also available to those based in the city.
Culture Secretary Sajid Javid said superfast broadband is transforming the way we all live and work.
“You can download feature length films faster, chatting online with family and friends around the world over the internet is more reliable and households can go online simultaneously without the connection slowing down or dropping out,” he said
“For businesses, superfast speeds are boosting profits through increased sales, reduced overheads and accessing markets abroad for the first time.”
Bill Murphy, managing director of next generation access for BT, said: “The Go Digital Newcastle programme is making strong progress, bringing high-speed fibre broadband to local communities ahead of schedule.
“The programme shows the power of the public and private sectors working together. BT has brought technical expertise to the table as well as millions of pounds of investment and, if we can go further, we will do so.
“This exciting technology is providing a major boost for local households and businesses whether they are using it to work more efficiently and find new customers or for online learning and leisure.”